No Cash for Raises for Your Gen Y Employees? Try Training Instead, Survey Says

Gen Y isn’t known for its loyalty. Some studies have indicated that as many as 70 percent of workers in this demographic will leave their first employer within two years of joining. So how can you keep your 20-something talent — aka the "Millennials" — and bring down the costs of high turnover?

Injured Piggy Bank WIth CrutchesOne obvious answer that works across all generations is to simply pay more, but current economic pressures make some firms reluctant, or unable, to sweeten the pot with a raise. If your organization is among those cash-strapped companies keen on keeping young workers but left with an empty piggy bank, a new British survey may offer an alternate suggestion: training.

The poll of 2,000 U.K. employees by training company People 1st and ICM Research asked workers what they would most desire in lieu of a pay raise. Answers, it seems, differed across various age groups.

Overall, the most people (31 percent) chose an extra day of holiday as their goodie of choice. But among the younger set — both 18- to 24- and 25- to 34-year-olds — additional training and development was most appealing (registering at 33 percent and 35 percent, respectively). The older the worker, the less enthusiastic they were about training — just 16 percent of those 55- to 64-year-olds chose the option.

Not only was training a popular selection among younger workers, but employees of all ages agreed that learning new skills would improve their performance. A few other notes from the survey:

  • Sixty-six percent of workers said further training would make them feel better about both their job and the company they worked for.
  • Sixty percent claimed they would be less likely to leave the company if they were offered the training.
  • Fifty-three percent said training opportunities would make them work harder.


When asked what sort of training workers would like to receive, one in three chose leadership and management training, while 22 percent opted for I.T. and social media skills. Thirteen percent said finance and administrative training.

Besides making intuitive sense, the survey’s claim that young and relatively unskilled workers are particularly keen on training also dovetails with the results of PricewaterhouseCoopers 2011 Global CEO Survey in which senior executives give their views on attracting and retaining talent. One of them notes that:

For Millennials training and development is the most highly valued employee benefit. The number choosing training and development as their first choice of benefit is three times higher than those who chose cash bonuses. 98 percent believe working with strong coaches and mentors is an important part of their development.

Is your organization struggling to retain young and talented employees?

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London-based Jessica Stillman blogs about generational issues and trends in the workforce for

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